Tony Robbins I am not
July 7, 2005 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I need motivation to complete a long and arduous task with an uncertain reward, can you help me? What motivates you with such a task? (explanation inside)

I'm beginning my studies to become a Chartered Accountant. I'm 26 and considered many different career paths to go. I chose this not because I think it will be terrific and fun, or even because I'm particularily talented at it or interested in it, but because I think it will give me more mobility than a lot of other careers, and I'm not sure where I want to live or what kind of organization I want to work for. So, here I am, at the beginning of at least two years of hardcore studying of something that's pretty damn dry. I try to create a vision in my head of something I'm working toward (nice place to live, travel, possibly family) but it keeps getting clouded in the present difficulties. Any suggestions?
posted by Idiot Mittens to Work & Money (4 answers total)
I set my sights low in that I accept the task as it is, and do not consider the reward or its uncertainty. This way - considering you're already commited to the task - you aren't tempted to undermine that commitment by doubts about the payback. And then, having completed the task, should the payback pay off, then that is another success in itself.

I'd also break the two years down into manageable chunks as approaching the task as a vast whole will be overwhelming - you don't stick a whole steak in your mouth in one go, you cut it into small pieces and take one piece at a time. When studying I've always found it useful to print out a calendar of the entire year and mark on it the times for study and the times for play or holiday or whatever so that I know exactly what I'm dealing with and to ensure that the enormity of the task does not overshadow the fact that fun still, and will, be had along the way.

Oh, and then I remind myself that there are people dying and destitute all over the world and that me bleating about having to stick my head in a book for a while isn't really the shortest end of the stick....

posted by forallmankind at 8:02 PM on July 7, 2005

Well, you can remind yourself that experience is largely up to the user, and that there's something to be learned from any undertaking.

My boilerplate college advice is: Study something you love, or study something you think will make you rich. I did the former. You've done the latter. Both are solid choices, better than a lot of alternative paths. At least you've got direction.

Pardon my English butchery, but motivation is an active verb. I've never found that a state of mind will particularly drive action -- but action will definitely drive a state of mind. So act as if. It'll follow.
posted by cribcage at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2005

It's damn tough to get through something you don't really want, but instead think will be useful. But you already know this.

I think you need to do three things, if you really want to stay the course:

i) break into manageable chunks, as forallmankind suggests;
ii) reward yourself for accomplishing those intermediary goals; reward in little ways, often, with bigger things for bigger accomplishments;
iii) do not DO NOT let yourself stray from delay-of-gratification. the moment you start allowing yourself to do what you want before you do what you need to do, you start down a path you don't want to go.

Create steps, have discipline, and reward yourself.
posted by dreamsign at 9:06 PM on July 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I have had some problems accepting the task at hand, as I'm constantly looking for a way out of it (i.e. law school). And I also have the delaying-gratification problem, so I think I'll focus on those.
posted by Idiot Mittens at 9:30 AM on July 8, 2005

« Older What are rentals like in Vancouver, BC?   |   How does one speak "pretend English"? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.